Electrification of instruments is hardly unusual, although not many play the electric 6-string violin as JOE DENINZON does. His album Electric Blue (Wilbert’s Blues records) is a mixture of jazz, rock, fusion, and numerous other styles, although there is ample improvisation to tilt the scale towards jazz. His duet to sextet groupings revolve around Joe Hunter, keyboard; Mark Gonder, drums; Jeremy Bleich, bass; Dallas Coffey, bass; Ricardo Flores, percussion; Kenny Anderson, tenor sax; Winton Reynolds, piano, Erik Unsworth, bass; Ryan Brown, drums, Tony Pulizzi, guitar. With the exception of a Monk piece, Deninzon wrote all the selections, and all are amplified and spirited tunes (Shock Therapy/In Stride/Well You Needn’t/Bluzak/Acid Rabbits/The Dark Frontier/ An Evening Nap in the Afternoon Sun/Oasis. 51:55). Hunter appears on almost all selections. His keyboard romps are typically wild and wooly, which is just the ticket to keep up with Deninzon. Together, they fan most of the flames of these hotly played tunes. The music touches all bases, infusing swing, Gypsy, Latin, and several Jazz periods with rock-based riffs. It truly is a fusion of multiple music types. Although Zappa and Hendrix made Deninzon’s hero list, so did Beethoven, Coltrane, Grappelli, and Stuff Smith. You will hear the influences of all these guys, so you see why his music is a quilt of many colors. He is not suffering from an identity crisis. He simply wants to be different.
Review of Joe Deninzon’s Electric Blue: All-Music Guide
by Alex Henderson
Jazz has given us some impressive violinists over the years (everyone from Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli, Stuff Smith to Jean-Luc Ponty and John Blake), but compared to saxophonists, trumpeters and pianists, violinists have been a very small minority in the jazz world. One of the few fusion violinists who came along in the 1990’s, Joe Deninzon shows considerable promise on Electric/Blue. This unpredictable jazz-rock effort demonstrates that while the Russian-born improviser has studied the history of jazz violin extensively, he refuses to be shackled by that history. Though Ponty is a strong influence on Deninzon, it’s obvious that he has also spent a lot of time listening to rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Steve Vai. Deninzon can be lyrical and charming, or he can be a forceful, in-your-face player who brings elements of hard rock guitar (distortion, feedback) to the electric violin. A musical rollercoaster, Electric/Blue ranges from the poetic “Oasis”, “An Evening Nap in the Afternoon Sun”, to the metallic, “Shock Therapy”, “Bluzak”. he violinist’s own compositions dominate the CD, although he also provides an unusually rock-influenced version of Thelonious Monk’s “Well You Needn’t”. Deninzon takes his share of chances on Electric/Blue, and they pay off handsomely.